Category Archives: phones

The secret to a more tranquil airport

Juan Alvarado please report to the check-in desk.

Attention: For your safety, please keep your bags next to you at all times. Please report any suspicious behavior to airport security personnel.

Flight 421 to Seattle, WA has been delayed. Our new departure time is now scheduled for 6:55pm.

There are usually no quiet zones at airports. Airports will soon become places that are ‘off-limits’ to those with high blood pressure.

Quiet and airports don’t seem to coexist.

Noise is always bouncing around the terminal about supposedly ‘urgent’ news. Important announcements become almost blasé. When everything’s important, what isn’t?

It doesn’t appear that anyone is paying any attention to the incessant intercom voices that permeate airport terminals. As announcements echo throughout the cavernous terminal, people don’t seem to notice. Headphones stay in ears. Eyes stay centered on iPhone screens. Books stay opened.

How about a better way?

How about meeting people at their place of comfort, escape, connection? The phone.

Could you ‘exclusively’ make gate change announcements, cancellations, delays, zone news via texts or e-mails? People are already transfixed to their devices, so why not share information through that medium? For those that don’t have a phone, the airlines could distribute a simple pager device that’s returned when boarding happens.

Think the pagers that are distributed after you place your order at Panera Bread or while you wait for your table at Outback Steakhouse. In exchange for getting on the plane, you return your pager to the airline.

The advantages are clear:

  • A quieter, less stressful environment for travelers
  • Removal of frequent communication barriers or mixed signals equals a more informed, ‘in the know’ traveler
  • Lower operating costs for airlines/airports (relying on scalable technology instead of error-prone humans)

Take a listen during your next airport visit and observe the various voices, announcements, news competing for your attention.

Go ahead airlines: it’s time to create a more informed, less frazzled airline passenger.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

Make your product invisible

Like electricity, the use of a dataphone has almost become that predictable, consistent, expected. When you want to make a call, set an appointment, get an answer to anything, you pull out your phone. It’s a modern day equivalent of flipping the light switch.

I’ve noticed some ‘heavy’ smartphone zones: airports, stoplights, doctor’s waiting rooms.

In one of these zones, you only notice the people who aren’t on a smartphone.

When your product's 'switch' is flipped, does it just click for the customer?

The use of these phones/devices has become invisible. When people seek the pivotal (departure time of a flight or directions when lost on a dark, deserted street) or the mundane (score of a football game or the real name of Seinfeld’s Kramer) they have a method to get an answer quickly, painlessly. Events, situations, scenarios that used to take hours, now take seconds.

Not all products can achieve such luxury or esteemed status, yet your product or service can inch closer towards being invisible. When a product’s invisible, it just works. No hassle. No fuss. No confusion. When you have a need to be filled or a problem to be solved, you turn to a product, and the product meets your need.

So what can other industries learn from the smartphone to make their products closer to invisibility?

  • Can a customer service line detect your personal information from the phone number where you dialed? It’s frustrating to have to re-enter a phone number when you’re tired, frustrated or angry.
  • Can your car rental company know your preferred XM satellite stations and have them preset upon your arrival? If you’re late to a meeting, and want to relax, the last thing you want to do is scan the dial while you navigate unfamiliar roads.
  • Can a fast food restaurant with a huge in-store line shift the order of the foods even though they’re out of sequence? For example, I recently ordered a yogurt from McDonald’s, which I could see from the counter in a fridge, yet I had to wait 10 minutes until all the other people received their time-intensive pancakes and sausage?

These micro-improvements, which can yield substantial gains, are sometime overlooked when product or business owners look to improve. The big wins are appreciated, yet they are few and far between. Seeking to make small wins on a frequent cadence will pave your path to product invisibility.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

How NOT to introduce someone to your team

A manager hires a new worker and can’t wait to get her started.

He gets her settled in her new office, orients her to the restrooms, coffee maker, supplies closet.

A few minutes go by.

He returns to ask her: “Have you made any phone calls yet?” “Let’s get you into the rhythm of talking to our prospects.”

"Nice to meet you; now, I'll watch your every move. "

“OK,” the young, new, eager team member says.

“Would you like me to stay here and watch?” the high-pressure manager barks.

“Well, I don’t know,” whispers the now-trembling newbie.

“I could listen over your shoulder. OK, how about I wait just outside the door so I can hear? Would that be alright?” announces the imposing manager.

“Sure,” says the now beaten-down worker.

Not a true way to boost confidence in a new team member.

A better way:  let this young woman’s unique and special talents and gifts shine. There’s no one ‘right’ way to interact with a customer over the phone. Yes, there are some tactics and techniques to keep in mind. Know the product, pricing; be familiar with your ‘offer’ and how it should be positioned. Most importantly, however, be genuine, personal, honest and real; this is something that no script or ‘lurking’ boss can teach.

If this manager wanted this new hire to get the sense for how he makes calls to prospects, have her listen in on another line as he dials a few people. This is showing, not telling.

And yes, this actually happened; it’s not fiction.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

My Sprint Phone Broke Again

I recently thought I was alone with a problem. (well, my wife’s problem.)

My wife’s phone had broken down (again!!) and I was off to the Sprint store for a quick fix.

After a speedy look-up on Sprint.com for nearest locations, I was off to a local Sprint store.
(Note: Did you know that one of the most popular functions on brick-and-mortar online sites is the ‘find a store’ link? Kinda ironic, huh?

This trip was before the ‘holiday rush’ so I expected a painless visit. Wrong.

The Sprint store was teeming with people, and they did not look happy.

I expected some hopeful faces as they perused the fresh, hot tech goodies that Sprint had to offer this holiday season.

These weren’t people trying to surprise their loved one with a new-fangled smart phone from Sprint, however, these were people with BROKEN PHONES.

Well, I waited 45 minutes for a customer service representative to assist.

As I waited, waited, and waited, 15 people (I counted) approached the ‘greet’ desk and said:

* Yeah, this isn’t working…
* Something happened to this phone….
* Can I get someone to take a look at this?

It was a continual train of tech support tickets entering that Sprint store in early December. The long wait got me thinking….

Now, if there was something to do as I stood near the ‘check-in’ desk at the Sprint store.

Idea:
Why doesn’t Sprint turn this ‘inevitable’ technical wait time into an opportunity? I highly doubt that this deluge of broken phones was an anomaly.
The same in-store technical support line is forming tomorrow and the days following.

Sure, I could browse the main ‘tech toys’ that cover the walls of the Sprint store. This got old after five minutes.

  • How about putting a Nintendo WII or Xbox 360 in the waiting area as you waited for your turn?
  • How about a fresh cup of coffee and a snack while I wait? Even the Jiffy Lube gives me this!!!

It is time for Sprint to turn this grueling wait into something fun.

Kudos to ‘Danny’ for finishing this experience strong; he addressed my issue and hooked me up with a new phone in record time after my number was called.

Until next time,

Dan Naden
Naden’s Corner